a girl eating a cookie

Tasting What You Smell

Is there a connection between the sense of smell and the sense of taste? In this activity, students will discover that there is.

This activity is a variation of an activity that I have completed with my students.  


The tongue is the organ for taste.  but your tongue can only sense four basic flavors: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Your sense of smell is much stronger than your sense of taste.  Often when you think you are tasting something, you are really smelling it.

This activity is from the Pacemaker, General Science, 3rd Edition, 2001 by Pearson Education, Inc.



The instructor should wash, peel, and cut up:


1.  Prepare a chart with 3 columns from left to right 

Under Food the 3 rows will be labeled as follows:

2.  Work with a blindfolded partner.  Put a tiny piece of each food on the plate.  Have your partner hold his or her nose closed.  Using the spoon, give your partner the food to taste but not swallow.

3.  Ask your partner to describe the taste and name the food. Write this down in the chart.  Have your partner remove the food, put it into the paper towel, and rinse his or her mouth with water. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 with each food sample.

4.  Now have your partner leave his or her nose open.  Repeat this activity. Again, write down the guesses.  

Now you be the taster. Repeat Steps 1 through 4.

Draw Conclusions:

  1. Which foods did you recognize with your nose closed?
  2. Which foods did you recognize with your nose open?
  3. What can you say about how taste and smell work together?

Please see Savory Science: Jelly Bean Taste Test for a similar activity using different flavored jelly beans. Students will compare their ability to recognize the flavor of a jelly bean with and without the use of their sense of smell.

This activity was adapted  from Scientific American: Savory Science: Jelly Bean Taste Test.

NGSS Standards:

Middle School: Structure and Function:

By Laura Hospitál

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